King: Only a holistic approach to security will engender safe schools


The Chairman of Protection Plus Security, and former chairman of American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) Chapter 206, Lagos, Ubong King, told ODITA SUNDAY that the Chibok girls saga should have affected policies, as well as what minimum physical security measures should be on ground in schools.

Schools in the North East and North West are routinely becoming soft targets for Boko Haram, and there is a consensus that the Federal Government has not done enough to protect them. How long can they continue like this?
Government has the primary responsibility of providing security for all living within its territorial authority. An attack on a school has many points it scores when you look at the widespread impact on the psychology and emotions of the victims, who may also end up submitting easily to agents of these groups for protection etc. If the government does not increase the level of orientation among the populace, they will surely loose confidence in the government.

The North is the most backward part of the country in terms of education. With nearly 400 girls carted away from two girls schools within four years, interest in education by females must be plummeting at great speed. How do you see the situation affecting the training of the girl-child?
Culture and tradition has been a major setback to the development of the society. Sadly, in most cases, the girl-child has always been the victim. She is married off quite early or she ends up in her husband’s house at the end of school. So, they end up reasoning, why waste the money training a girl-child past a certain level. It’s unfortunate that these numbers of girls have been taken away from school and from their parents.

It does appear that lessons were not learnt from the Chibok girls’ abduction episode, the reason schools are still unsecured. Is it not time minimum security standards are put in place in schools across the country?
There were a lot of lessons that came out of the Chibok girls’ abduction, which should have affected policies, as well as what minimum physical security should be put in place before a school is given approval to open its doors to the public. The case of bride kidnap we saw in a school in the North East is just one risk that these girls are exposed to.

Violent attacks are becoming commonplace in schools across the country, what are the best ways to address this ugly trend?
Three major factors affect safety in schools. They are school security (hardware, technology, protocol and policies); school design (access control, natural surveillance, and territorial reinforcement), and school climate (values, norms and attitudes). These factors must be addressed holistically and audited periodically to ensure compliance. It is only when this happens that the issue of attacks can be reasonably addressed.

Negotiations with terrorists, apart from giving a subtle message that the government is weak, is also at variance with the internationally accepted norms of non-negotiation with terrorists. Is the morale of these terrorists not being boosted by government’s posture of always negotiating for the release of captured persons?
Negotiation is always to the advantage of the team that has less to lose. It is also a type of strategy to understand what your opponent’s major interest is. Tiger kidnap is the practice where you pick someone and get his or her wards to do something in exchange for the release of that person. We may not be privy to all the intelligence both parties have on each other, but be sure the populace is not enjoying the negotiation, while the insurgents are smiling.

Nigeria’s porous/unmanned borders with Cameroun, Chad and Niger republics significantly aids cross-boarder operations of these insurgents and sundry criminal elements, is the Nigerian government not shooting itself in the leg by allowing these borders to continue being the way they are?
Our borders have been a continuous concern because we do not have enough personnel to man all the porous points and there is urgent need for improvement in our use of technology and training to reduce the exposure of our security agents to desparate intruders from other countries.

After the military and indeed the Federal Government severally celebrated the “defeat” of Boko Haram, the Presidency made a volte face declaring that Boko Haram has been thoroughly degraded and “not defeated.” Do claims like these in anyway embolden the insurgents?
Insurgents thrive on ideologies. Even if it is only one of them that is still standing, he must have indoctrinated and radicalised his children. So, these insurgents are not dead yet, and any action they carry out is just a continuum of other actions. Close watches must be intensified on all second, third and fourth layer relationships to ensure that sleeper cells are not been cultivated. The damage inflicted on Boko Haram has been severe, but remember you do not entirely destroy an idea, but contain it to its barest minimum till it is replaced by a new idea.

In this article:
ASISBoko HaramUbong King

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